Adding To The Noise

A critical view of new media, new technology and new marketing.

USA Today Ad Meter Super Bowl Results: Story Wins With Puppy Love And Others!

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The 2014 Super Bowl is over and even though there wasn’t much plot development in the game, the winning Super Bowl ads knew the power of a good story. As I posted on Saturday “Shakespeare Predicts Super Bowl Commercial Winners” Budweiser’s Puppy Love won USA Today’s Ad Meter voting.

Our two-year analysis of 108 Super Bowl commercials found that dramatic form impacts favorability in advertising rating polls – consumer ratings went up as ads had more acts in a the five-act dramatic form expressed in Freytag’s Pyramid and used by William Shakespeare.

Did story win out this year? Let’s take a look at the top spots in the 2014 Ad Meter results and one at the bottom to see if they have five act dramatic form:

1. “Puppy Love” – Budweiser: This has five acts of story from the inciting moment of the puppy pound, and rising action of a new animal friendship to the climax of Clydesdales surrounding the car, falling action and moment of release when the puppy finds a home.

2. “Cowboy Love” – Doritos: The mom and younger brother win out over the bratty kid in this complete story in five acts.

3. “Hero’s Welcome” – Budweiser: The beer brand delivers another heart felt complete story. The plot in this story heightens knowing it features a real soldier returning from war.

4. “Time Machine” – Doritos: This snack brand has been telling good stories for years with their “Crash the Superbowl” contest. Here the complete story shows how a kid tricks an adult out of his Doritos.

5. “Phone Call” – Radio Shack: This is a story of Radio Shack getting a makeover. A simple story, but the real drama (climax) comes as 1980s stars come in and slowly dismantle the store leading to the falling action and moment of release with the two store employees left alone.

That is the top five, but does story appear in the Super Bowl poll losers? At the bottom of the list we have a Bud Light commercial “Cool Twist.” This Super Bowl ad is 30 seconds of spinning bottle with a voice over talking about the bottle. I see no plot or story development in any acts. Budweiser uses the power of story to earn two top 5 spots, why are they so flat with this effort?

This disparity has happened before. In the first year of our Super Bowl analysis, Budweiser had a top 5 hit with “Clydesdale’s Friend” or “Fence” that leveraged the power of story. However, in the 2010 Super Bowl, Budweiser also had a bottom five spot with Select 55 “World’s Lightest Beer” that simply featured a spinning bottle with an announcer talking about the beer – no story.

It looks like story is the ingredient needed to make Super Bowl ads super. SpotBowl.com voting is still open, polls close at 3:00 p.m. today. People think it’s all about sex or humor or animals, but what we’ve found is that the underbelly of a great commercial is whether it tells a story or not.

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Author: Keith A. Quesenberry

Marketing Professor with Industry Experience

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